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Toyota Ordered to Face California Court Cases

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On: Fri, Dec 10, 2010 at 10:08AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Toyota Ordered to Face California Court Cases

A tentative ruling by a California federal judge has ordered that the plaintiffs suing the Toyota Motor Corporation may proceed in their case. The lawsuits were brought against the Japanese-owned automaker as a result of reported injuries and deaths sustained by drivers who experienced sudden acceleration. This is the first in a series of legal hurdles needed to be overcome by the plaintiffs.  

According to a recent automotive news article: “U.S. District Judge James V. Selna wrote in his ruling that there was sufficient evidence provided in the preliminary hearings to proceed.”

Toyota Motor Corporation is under the gun for allegedly omitting disclosure of knowledge of defects in certain Toyota models that could potentially cause injuries as a result of unintended acceleration. Toyota maintains its stance that no actual electronic defects have been identified by plaintiffs and that the company did not make a purposeful attempt to conceal anything.

“Toyota demands a level of specificity that is not required at the pleadings stage,” Selna wrote in his temporary order. “The defect is identified: plaintiffs' cars suddenly and unexpectedly accelerate and do not stop upon proper application of the brake pedal.”

Judge Selna refused to dismiss allegations against Toyota related to unintended acceleration, citing claims by the plaintiffs. “Rather than disclosing the unintended acceleration defects to consumers, Toyota often blamed consumers for unintended acceleration-related problems,” Selna wrote.

The troubles for Toyota began back in September 2009 when the acceleration issue was first reported. At that time, Toyota recalled over 3 million vehicles. By the time the total recall was finished nearly 10 million Toyotas were sent back to Toyota service centers for repairs.

For its part, Toyota stands by their design. Toyota spokeswoman Celeste Migliore released a statement yesterday stating that “These rulings are only tentative and come at a stage of the legal proceedings in which the judge has to accept that what the plaintiffs allege are true, even though they are unproven.” She went on to state, “We are confident that as the facts develop in this case they will show that there are no defects in these Toyota vehicles.”

Toyota is preparing to defend itself in 400 cases related to the acceleration issue. How many of these cases will make it to a trial depends on the outcome of these early proceedings. With lawsuits, precedent is everything.


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